Honest Motherhood: Making the world go round

I was recently asked by another Mum at the park what it’s been like having a baby during the pandemic. No one had asked me that question directly before and I was briefly stumped as to how to reply. I think I went with something generic and aptly light and breezy for park-talk like “Weird! But manageable! You know you’re kind of in a bubble when you have a baby, you have a sort of mini-lockdown anyway.” There is truth to this, we were in a lovely bubble for a few short weeks. But what I really felt like saying was “Giving birth during a pandemic, being in and out of lockdown for the first year of my son’s life, has not been great. It’s been really tough actually.” 

There was a lot of anxiety when I was pregnant, as to how things would be when I gave birth. Would Joel be allowed in during the birth? If there were complications and I had to stay in hospital, would he be able to come and visit? Would I still have health visitors coming to the house in the days after the birth? Would our parents be allowed to come and meet the baby? What does a birth during a pandemic look like? Would I have to labour with a mask on? So many questions and the answers were forever changing. Thankfully Joel was present at the birth (along with his face mask) and we were complication free, so only one night in hospital. Visiting hours were restricted because of the virus and I bawled my eyes out when Joel was told he had to go home shortly after I’d arrived on the post-natal ward. I wasn’t ready to be left alone yet. We’d just been through a life-changing experience and all we wanted was to talk about it, be there for each other and coo over our new baby. But no special treatment for new Dads, he was to leave immediately. That wasn’t nice. But I was grateful he was there at all, and that our boy was healthy. 

I tried not to focus on the fact I wouldn’t be having a baby shower. It seemed like a lovely but frivolous sort of affair that I could do without. Given what was going on in the world, my disappointment seemed nonsensical. Perspective please. At least that’s what I told myself. Deep down I longed to get all my girlfriends together and somehow re-create the magical shower I’d had weeks before my daughter was born in 2013. I wanted my baby’s impending arrival celebrated. And obviously the gifts. 

It was only when the January 2021 lockdown was announced that it really hit me how different things were raising a baby during a pandemic. I was refunded for a baby class I’d booked that I’d been looking forward to and felt a sinking feeling. How exactly was I meant to make baby-mummy friends now? Put a call out on Twitter? By March, it occurred to me I might be starting to feel a bit lonely. With Maia back at school and Joel working, I was desperate to talk to other women in the same position. Desperate to have somewhere to be. 
Thankfully all being well, in a few short weeks I’ll have exactly that. With NCT walks, baby classes and countless coffee meet-ups, our social schedule is slowly forming. Leo will finally get to meet some other babies. (He is currently of the understanding that he is the only baby on this planet). And I, like Maia, will get to experience a world away from our kitchen table. My heart goes out to new Mums who’ve had to navigate the minefield of motherhood on their own during the pandemic. Pregnancy, childbirth, newborns, it’s no walk in the park at the best of times. Leo is my second baby and I’ve still relied heavily on my own Mum for words of encouragement and a helping hand. She’s been a lifeline, along with a handful of wonderful Mum friends. Because pandemic or not, Mothers are Goddesses and I sincerely believe make the world go round.